Mayo Coaches Work With Football Legends To Promote Integration in Ireland

Mayo Coaches Work With Football Legends To Promote Integration in Ireland

Football coaches Dan Gorman and Jonathan Heffernan from Ballina County Mayo teamed up with football legends Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Glenn Hoddle and Steve Macmanaman to deliver a landmark event at Crusaders FC’s Seaview Stadium, Belfast on Tuesday 10 August. Gorman and Heffernan were part of a coaching team led by former Chelsea and England Legend Joe Cole that delivered the Hope Cup on 10th August, a showcase event as part of BT Sport’s #HopeUnited campaign.
Jonathan Heffernan said:
‘ It was an honour to represent Ballina and Mayo in working with these young people and seeing how we can bring people together through sport. Working with Joe Cole also gave me a few tips I can take into my role as first team manager at Ballina Town FC and seeing the great work happening in the North has given a great boost to the Youth In Action project here as we start back to work after the Covid19 lockdown.’
Dan Gorman said:
‘Being a part of this project and event makes it clear how important it is to bring people together and provide opportunities for understanding and friendship. The young people we trained and were involved with had a fantastic time and it was good to not only meet but work with some football legends who want to give back to the community.’
The event which was organised by the Irish FA, and delivered in partnership with UEFA and BT Sport, highlighted the important work being done to bring communities together through sport, to promote youth leadership and tackle inequality.

(R-L) Leo Brown, Rio Ferdinand, Dan Gorma, Jono Heffernan

Gorman and Heffernan have worked for the Rio Ferdinand Foundation since January 2021, as project leads for the Youth In Action project in Connacht.
Rio Ferdinand Foundation CEO Gary Stannett, also based in Ballina, said:
‘ The Youth In Action project uses football to bring young people together and tackle racism and inequality in their communities. The fact that we have had coaches from Connacht working with refugee communities along the border and being involved in this event in Belfast shows the commitment people in this area have to making real social change. The event was a great success and the ongoing work we are doing both in Connacht and across Ireland will continue with a much needed boost from the involvement of Rio and the BT Sport team’.

Thirty two players aged 14-17 from community projects across Northern Ireland, including refugee communities from Syria and East Timor, competed in the Hope Cup, a game treated like any other professional match. Presented by Rio Ferdinand, with team managers Glenn Hoddle and Joe Cole, and commentary from Darren Fletcher and Steve Macmanaman. A host of famous football and media faces in the crowd, also ensured a memorable occasion.

Joe Cole, Dan Gorman, Glenn Hoddle.

The players, coaches and youth workers were subsequently invited to attend the European Super Cup in Belfast on 11 August between Chelsea and Villareal as guests of UEFA. A documentary on the event and the projects behind it has since been screened on BT Sport, and can be viewed at this link

Rio Ferdinand said:
‘This event in Belfast has showcased how football brings people together and is a great way to tackle hate and promote understanding. The team at the Foundation do a brilliant job week in week out in delivering Youth In Action projects across Ireland, and it was great to see everyone coming together for one day to make a difference. It was fantastic to meet Dan and Jonathan and see the work they are doing in the West of Ireland and I am looking forward to seeing the results of the upcoming cross border work they are planning this year.’

Rio Ferdinand Foundation – Creating Opportunities for Young People

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